Why we shouldn't sneer at Miss Rwanda contestants

Editor, Last year, I woke up to a video of one of the Miss Rwanda Beauty Pageant 2014 contestants answering a question she had been asked by one of the judges. The video went viral almost immediately on social media because of the pathetic and broken French in which she (barely) expressed herself.
The five young women who were picked to represent the Northern Province at the ongoing Miss Rwanda 2015 competition. (File)
The five young women who were picked to represent the Northern Province at the ongoing Miss Rwanda 2015 competition. (File)

Editor,

Last year, I woke up to a video of one of the Miss Rwanda Beauty Pageant 2014 contestants answering a question she had been asked by one of the judges. The video went viral almost immediately on social media because of the pathetic and broken French in which she (barely) expressed herself.

This year, as we get ready for another shot at choosing Miss Rwanda 2015, social media is already swarming with criticism around this competition.

I disapprove of any remarks that seek to hurt or attack the contestants on a personal level. This means anything from calling them names, to adding on to what they actually said, or even taking out of context some of the things they say.

Language is one hot topic when it comes to this issue, and there are a couple of things that we need to understand about it.

First of all, if you are able to detect all of the contestants’ mistakes in French or English, it is important that you understand the privilege that allows you to be able to express yourself in foreign languages as well as you do.

On that note, we all know that we were not all exposed to the same resources, and therefore cannot be held to the same standards when it comes to using those languages.

Secondly, there is the lack of formulating a sound argument or making an informed and clear statement. This also lies, partly, in the limitations in languages. However, there are many people who went to supposedly some of the best schools who are not able to express themselves eloquently. Therefore, this could just be the lack of this specific skill.

What I think is that organisers of Miss Rwanda contest do not know what they are looking for, or at least do not understand what Miss Rwanda’s role would be. In my opinion, last year, this process died at the preliminary auditions stage. And this year does not look promising either considering what we have already seen.

For some of these contestants to have even endured the ridicule of the public is, for the most part, the organisers’ fault.

Here is what I think is important that we do: laughing at the contestants will for sure raise awareness about the deeper underlying issues with this contest, not having any conversation beyond that is just as ridiculous; we need to question the reasons why we pick Miss Rwanda, what she represents, and how she will represent us all.

After figuring that out, we can then proceed to setting standards and opening up the contest to those who qualify. And after they have been chosen, we need to see concrete ways in which Miss Rwanda is benefiting the advancement of society and contributing to our development as a nation.

Elodie Shami

*****

Read the original and full post on Elodie Shami's blog.